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2.11.2007

This week's UPI column

Gonna scoop myself again, cause I am not sure when I will get back to the net.

Hot Joy Cold Horror

So There I Was…

Coming home from church at Kamange.

Human emotions do not exist in a matter/anti-matter situation. Sometimes feelings so divergent that they ought to explode on contact cuddle up together and walk down the road.

Church was nothing but joy this morning. Hot joy, but joy. We have all been told wrong. Hell cannot be hot. It would be redundant. I know this because Church in Burundi is very near heaven on Earth and it is hotter than the proverbial, but apparently inaccurately attributed, Hades.

Kamenge is about to bump out the south wall and build. They need another 200 seats. In preparation for this they cut down the only two shade trees near the church, and so today the tin roof had been cooking the space since shortly after dawn. Then they added 800 bodies. Oven temp just right for toasting cheese on bread.

My favorite choir is the choir of the mothers. There are only about a dozen of them – a small choir. They are very traditional. They dress traditionally. They are built traditionally, kind of shaped like snowmen, oddly enough. I hear they are not pleased with the concept of family planning. Their drum is covered with goat skin. It is the only instrument they will use. The Kamenge techno boys set up the microphones for them, but they ignore them. This morning they had it going on. Their harmonies were tight enough to shame Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The choreographed motions would have made the Temptations weep.

The mother’s choir has decided that they like me. Fortunately we do not share much language and they cannot ask me too many questions. They like me because when I preached last week it got a little prophetic – in the good way. I have a teeny bit of a rep from three years ago. Something about God fulfilling some words of mine. They hand me babies a lot – I look into the babies eyes and say nice things about them and put a little spit on them – not very Quakerly again, as we don’t baptize with water, but it seems to go over well here.

The Choir of the mothers had the people all worked up this morning, and then the Choir of the young people got up. They have a band, and it is a red hot band. The scene turned into a Jesus dance party real fast. Complete with a Masai inspired jumping mosh pit. I like dancing in church. I get dehydrated and faint a lot, but it is fun. The room is so packed that you can’t hit the ground when you fall, and your friends will carry you out for air, so there is no problem.

This morning they had a Reggae beat stewing nicely on the front burner. Me and the girls in the front row of the choir had this thing going that started with knees bent, butt near the ground, grinding up to full height and then hands over head shaking what your mamma gave you. All for Jesus, of course, He likes this sort of thing I am told. Apparently the choir girls had not seen a white woman do this sort of a thing with her hips, because there was a whole lot of making of that high pitched, repetitive noise that only African women can make.


Then I had to be taken out for air. Fun, fun, fun till daddy takes the drummer away.


I had brought my own car, so when it was time to head out I was on my own. I was sweat-soaked to the skin, but oh, so happy and grateful.


I was taking the main road out of Kamenge town. Standard Chaos. Amid all the goats and bicycles I saw the oncoming bus. I saw the motorcycle come around the bus straight towards me, but I was not concerned, I had plenty of space and was going slow enough to stop quickly, if need be. The bike had six different ways to avoid me.


Then the boy darted crossways into the flow. Out of the pattern, out of the Zen, out of the Way. He was about ten. Ten year old Burundian boys are quick like snakes. They take bold snaky chances. They usually make it. He was wearing a colorful shirt and white trousers, his sandals were red. The motorcycle hit him square in the chest and tossed him about five meters. His head took a nasty bounce on the pavement a few meters in front of my stopped car. He did not get up. The motorcyclist dropped his bike on the road and ran to the boy. A woman on the side of the road screamed and dropped herself to the pavement.

I said, “Oh, Sweet Jesus, just this once, please let me get out of this car and heal that child. I know you can say yes if you want to.”

And He said “I’ve got it.”

A taxi driver grabbed the limp child and lifted him by the arms off the pavement. There was no blood. The taxi driver threw the boy over his shoulder and ran for the taxi, and then presumably for the hospital. It looked like it was too late.

And then the busses behind me started honking, and I drove on. Because it was the only thing I could do.


Truly something should have exploded.


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